8 Warning Signs Of Pancreatic Cancer
Cancer is always scary, and pancreatic cancer is no different. Most people don’t realize they have pancreatic cancer until it is very advanced, and this makes effective treatment that much more difficult. It’s no wonder then that pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest cancers: it has the highest mortality rate of all major cancers and is currently the third-leading cause of cancer-related death in the U.S., according to the Hirshberg Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research.
To make matters worse, most of the warning signs of pancreatic cancer go unnoticed at first. These are the kinds of small issues you may think were caused by something else or may be not a big deal at all.
In order to keep you safe, we have rounded up some of the major warning signs of pancreatic cancer. If you are experiencing one or more of these symptoms, it’s important to consult with your doctor immediately!
Back pain or abdominal pain
Now, don’t freak out. Everybody suffers from occasional back pain or abdominal pain. But many who have experienced pancreatic cancer report feeling a very special kind of pain. The pancreas is located behind the stomach and plays a role in digestion by producing digestive juices and insulin, as well as other digestive hormones.
Stomach pain caused by pancreatic cancer is usually located on the upper part of the abdomen and directly beneath the breastbone. Pain may be closer to the surface area or be deeper inside, feeling like it is closer to your spine.
As for back pain, this can occur when the infected pancreas starts pressing on various organs. If you have persistent back pain and nothing seems to help, pancreatic cancer may be the culprit.
Some warning signs may be more obvious than others. For example, you may notice one day that your eyes and skin look notably yellow. This condition is jaundice, and it can be caused by pancreatic cancer.
Depending on where the cancer is located, it can block your bile duct. This causes bile to build up and turn your eyes and skin yellow. Because this may be a sign of advanced pancreatic cancer, it’s important to visit your doctor as soon as you notice jaundice.
Vomiting and nausea
As with abdominal and back pain, there are many things that can potentially cause vomiting and nausea. But if you have no idea what caused it, or symptoms persist for a long time, it may be due to pancreatic cancer.
How does pancreatic cancer cause these symptoms? The cancer can potentially cause a blockage in your stomach that makes it difficult for food to get through. This can cause stomach illness that is especially worse shortly after you have eaten.
Oddly-colored urine or stool
It may not be the stuff of polite conversation, but your bathroom habits can often reveal major health issues. In this case, the color of your urine or stool may be a sign of pancreatic cancer.
Your urine may look a bit darker if you aren’t properly hydrated. But if your urine is dark brown or even rust-colored, it may be a sign that bilirubin (a component of bile) is building up in your blood and darkening your urine. In that case, you may have pancreatic cancer.
Alternatively, your stool may look greasy or have the color of clay. This happens when cancer blocks your bile duct.
These effects can also be caused by different blood disorders as well as hepatitis. So even if it’s not pancreatic cancer, these are signs you need to go to a doctor ASAP.
Oral health issues
Has your oral hygiene recently taken a nosedive despite your best efforts? Believe it or not, this may be a sign of pancreatic cancer.
Many pancreatic cancer patients develop oral health issues that range from bad breath and cavities all the way to loose teeth and other mouth problems.
This may be due to a special mouth bacteria that can lead to conditions such as periodontitis. Long story short? If you suddenly develop oral hygiene issues, it could be a more serious sign than you first imagined!
Sudden weight loss
One topic we often return to is sudden and unexpected weight loss. If you’ve been wanting to lose some pounds, sudden weight loss may sound great. But it’s always a sign of something serious, including pancreatic cancer.
Pancreatic cancer patients often lose their appetite and soon start losing weight. If you are losing weight and haven’t made adjustments to your diet or exercise routine, then treat this as a very serious warning sign.
Obviously, pancreatic cancer means that your pancreas is in bad shape. And this sometimes manifests in those with this cancer developing pancreatitis, an inflammation of the pancreas. Symptoms include upper abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting.
Typically, pancreatitis is caused by other things. This includes changing medication, drinking too much alcohol, or simply having gallstones. But if you develop pancreatitis and haven’t met those conditions, it may be because of pancreatic cancer.
Type 2 diabetes
Getting diagnosed with type 2 diabetes is already scary and life-changing. To make matters worse, this diagnosis may also be a warning sign of pancreatic cancer.
It’s not that diabetes causes pancreatic cancer. Instead, it’s the other way around. Because the pancreas creates insulin, a disruption in that process (which is inevitable if you have pancreatic cancer) can easily lead to diabetes.
If you have recently developed type 2 diabetes, be sure to ask your doctor about screening for pancreatic cancer.